Browser Trends May 2016: Firefox Finally Overtakes IE

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April brought us a shower of Samsung surprises, so can the latest StatCounter browser statistics be similarly exciting? …

Worldwide Desktop & Tablet Browser Statistics, March to April 2016

The following table shows browser usage movements during the past month:

Browser March April change relative
IE (all) 12.54% 12.13% -0.41% -3.30%
IE11 9.40% 9.02% -0.38% -4.00%
IE10 0.80% 0.81% +0.01% +1.30%
IE9 0.87% 0.85% -0.02% -2.30%
IE6/7/8 1.47% 1.45% -0.02% -1.40%
Edge 1.98% 2.10% +0.12% +6.10%
Chrome 56.51% 56.89% +0.38% +0.70%
Firefox 14.29% 14.24% -0.05% -0.30%
Safari 4.17% 4.20% +0.03% +0.70%
iPad Safari 5.25% 5.26% +0.01% +0.20%
Opera 1.87% 1.83% -0.04% -2.10%
Others 3.39% 3.35% -0.04% -1.20%

Worldwide Desktop & Tablet Browser Statistics, April 2015 to April 2016

The following table shows browser usage movements during the past twelve months:

Browser April 2015 April 2016 change relative
IE (all) 18.25% 12.13% -6.12% -33.50%
IE11 10.76% 9.02% -1.74% -16.20%
IE10 1.81% 0.81% -1.00% -55.20%
IE9 2.26% 0.85% -1.41% -62.40%
IE6/7/8 3.42% 1.45% -1.97% -57.60%
Chrome 49.97% 56.89% +6.92% +13.80%
Firefox 16.77% 14.24% -2.53% -15.10%
Safari 9.86% 9.46% -0.40% -4.10%
Opera 1.61% 1.83% +0.22% +13.70%
Others 3.54% 5.45% +1.91% +54.00%

(The tables show market share estimates for desktop browsers. The ‘change’ column is the absolute increase or decrease in market share. The ‘relative’ column indicates the proportional change, i.e. Edge’s user base grew 6.1% last month. There are several caveats so I recommend you read How Browser Market Share is Calculated and StatCounter vs NetMarketShare.)

firefox browser logoIt’s taken almost fourteen years but Mozilla can finally claim to own a bigger slice of the web browsing market than Microsoft. Firefox stands at 14.24% while the combined IE/Edge total is a fraction under at 14.23%. Firefox has regained the #2 spot after losing it to Chrome in December 2011 (which then overtook IE just six months later).

Mozilla’s celebrations will be muted. Both Firefox and IE lost share to the dominant Chrome, but IE fell further. Edge has become the fastest growing mainstream browser, but its total 2.1% share of the market is matched by Chrome in growth alone every three months.

Chrome experienced a fairly sedate 0.38% jump in April. I predicted it wouldn’t reach 60% this year, but it looks as though I’ll be proved wrong. Again.

Opera and the desktop and iPad versions of Safari barely moved. It’s possible Opera’s new VPN could entice those wanting more privacy to re-evaluate the browser when the final version is released in a few months. A built-in VPN is the the only significant feature that differentiates Opera from other Blink-based browsers. Talking of which …

Vivaldi has entered the StatCounter statistics for the first time with a 0.01% user share. Vivaldi 1.0 was launched in April and is a great browser; you should try it. Whether it can make an impact on the big five remains to be seen. Currently, Vivaldi is positioned below country-specific browsers such as Amigo and QQ as well as the Playstation 3 and 4 console browsers.

Worldwide Mobile Browser Statistics, March to April 2016

Mobile usage increased 0.73% during April to reach 43.56% of all web activity.

The top mobile browsing applications for the month were:

Mobile Browser March April change relative
Chrome 33.80% 34.17% +0.37% +1.10%
UC Browser 19.60% 19.75% +0.15% +0.80%
iPhone 17.50% 17.48% -0.02% -0.10%
Opera Mini/Mobile 10.79% 10.90% +0.11% +1.00%
Android 9.03% 8.30% -0.73% -8.10%
Samsung Internet 5.53% 5.71% +0.18% +3.30%
IEMobile 1.64% 1.60% -0.04% -2.40%
Others 2.11% 2.09% -0.02% -0.90%

Samsung’s new range of S7 smartphones gave its custom browser a 300% user-base increase during March. The gains were more modest in April, but the figures remain impressive — especially when compared with Apple’s first drop in iPhone sales and revenue over thirteen years.

The iPhone version of Safari stayed static, but it’s clear Apple is losing ground to Android competitors. The company cannot expect buyers to continually upgrade every year when hardware differences are increasingly marginal and the only browser permitted on iOS is falling behind.

Apple appeared to lose interest in the web when native apps became a lucrative sales channel. However, within a few years, we should reach a stage where the difference between native and web apps is negligible. Apple is free to ignore industry developments, but history was not kind to the last company that neglected the web.